Corporate Communications Today, Course Module 6: Web Society
Corporate Communications Today
Course Module 6: Web Society – Environment of an Enterprise 2.0
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Last but not least let‘s see everything we did up to now from a meta, maybe societal
First. What are the basic changes in Corporate Communications – if you compare the next
slide and the one after this with the „University Example“.
First difference: there is a distinction between internal and external communication in
traditional communication with different responsibilities – maybe the IT-Department and PR/
Marketing. In Social Media live it‘s hard to keep these borders – especially if internal
students, professors and employees use media like facebook. Still they all may act in
The students, professors and employees ARE the university. Their communication leads to
the university‘s picture. It would be very hard to channel and filter it in single Departments.
And most of the time they don‘t have to contruct communication but just work – it‘s not
marketing, it‘s the function: to present research results, to discuss challenges in quality and
to network with organizations and companies.
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Traditional communication: Example university
Economy / Politics …
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With this communication and collaboration the so called association premises (blue eggs)
can be established. Talks and discussions about what the university does and stands for,
build the picture of it for many stake holders. And it makes the university a social partner in
different topics in research or in quality of teaching etc.
These association premises cannot exclude groups that they are not meant for. They use
different media (social media, in blue and as presented in the last course modules), maybe
with internal views. And, very important, they address different stakeholders with different
topics and targets: Relationship with Alumnis, Attractiveness with students (or their parents?)
and Knowledge with the scientific community.
From this targets, as can be seen in the „What?“ „Who?“ etc. slide, follow certain strategies
for communication. This again holds for every organisation. Decide which target you follow.
Who may and should contribute. Why? What may be his motivation? Is there any? Try to let
others communicate for you, not only your public relations or your chief. Is it necessary that
he posts? Maybe others are better, but he should know and support this.
Then decide for the platform – as described before and at the same time decide about the
form of your communication. Where will be private bits, maybe? Do you want to use
campaigns, only short statements or stories around it. Try to imagine your talks and
discussions beforehand, but keep the platform open for changes. The whole system of
customers, employees etc. will develop differently from what you thought it will...
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Collaborative association premises: Example university
„Sag‘s uns“ (Tell us)
Economy / Politics …
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From ideas (targets) follow the „strategies“…
Relationship, Quality, Satisfaction, Attention ...
Employees, „Chief“ himself, Public Relations, Customers ...
Facebook, Twitter, Forums, own websites
Messages, Stories, Campaigns, Actions, Private Contents
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One main target that perfectly fits social media communication is reputation. Reputation
results from all the messages, discussions, actions, campaigns and associations the public.
From talks, from offers for participations, e. g. in innovation management, from complaints
and their treatment, from our knowledge management where certain parts can be seen from
This is because reputation is more than our product, It is more than the story, we tell about
our product, more that the image. Reputation is our capital, Everything we invested in. Our
employees, our knowledge, our responsibility. And, further more, it is the commonly accepted
capital. Everything that is talked about our reponsibility, our whole organisation with our
employees and values.
Social media is the place where, above all, reputation will be built. By all stakeholders and by
the organisation itself.
A reputation of the whole company but also a reputation as being present (and how) in the
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• Talks – association spaces
• Knowledge network, with „store window“
• Offers for participation
• Internet Complaint Center
• Innovation Competitions
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The road to reputation
Website / Mass media
on the web
of the organization
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So. Finally. All of this looks good.
But why do we have so called Shitstorms:
- when Pril doesn‘t agree with the most wanted Design in their innovation competition and
doesn‘t use it?
- when Greenpeace accuses Nestle of using Palmoil?
- when Volkswagen erases comments of customers that are influenced by Greenpeace?
- when H&M has bet on a design that was invented before their designers invented it?
- and when adidas builts shoes that look like being in chains?
Exactly, we have them, because something went wrong, either in the company, or even
worse in social media communication. Marie Christine and Fatmir already pointed that out in
And this again is somehow caused by the fact, that we keep on being stuck in mass media
society. We haven‘t completely learned what the new media is. The revolution will not be
televised. Gil Scott said this in the 70s. He was critizising mass media, mass media society,
where critical opinions are overwhelmed by mass opinions and opinions controled by media.
For us this holds true – in the other way around. The revolution may take place in social
media but, important for us, social media are not like television. This, our revolution in media
we can use, cannot be handled with knowledge from mass media..
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Media influence our society, society reflects its media set. We probably have to learn,
generally, that we are moving into a web society, that we may make a cooperative web
This is another great transformation like the one we faced towards the industrial society. With
mass media, mass production and mass markets. This all will change.
And we will have to think about what will change. Will the representative democracy still work
reasonably, will it be substituted or complemented by a direct one? Will it be possible to
reach for a defragmented public or will we have to live, as we already do, with a
fragmentation? Can public and private spheres be separated, and if, than how? What should
be private today? Will we still stick on role models or do we have to cope with individualized
lifestyles and role diversity? Will negotiation – but with collaborative principles – be the
common state instead of decision?
Communication leads to action. The society represents itself in communication. And in social
media communications are potentially effective discourses that lead to publicity and to action.
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The Great Transformation
Collaborative Web Society
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Representative vs. direct Democracy
Fragmented social public
Public and private spheres
„Leitmedium“ (trend-setting media) Internet
Transformation to a web society
Decision or negotiation
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In our organisation we will, maybe, step by step be confronted with the effects of a web
society and with the new paradigms of collaboration.
In markets, but also inside our organisations discussions will prevail former messages and
missions. Preset institutions, where you have to become a member, will be complemented by
groups – in organisations these are departments contrary working groups / teams.
Hierarchy will or can be substituted with heterarchy. Certainly not at once and not
everywhere. But remember, that heterarchy with collaboration principles includes equality but
also responsibility. Organisational Processes, that are mostly hierachically controled may
also change and step by step be substituted by less hierachical working and co-working
forms. Here a sense of coherence, less control but trust in the well being of the system, can
Where in Mass Media Society Institutions are units that provide the inner meaning of society
and that work with representative principles and advocacy, in Web Society more temporary
groups will come together, with common goals and interests and a social closeness.
Institutions meet at places and times, they decide and disseminate decisions. Groups, on the
other side are kept together by associations and talks. Coordination is substituted by
But conventions will be needed, and as we showed it in our second course module, whereas
we are quite familiar with traditional Mass Media conventions, we will have to learn those of
Web Society and together with this the conventions and difficult parts of collaboration.
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Organizations in the web society
Social medias are the dominant mediums of the collaborative web society.
Mass media society
Rooms, Places, Times, Meetings
Sense giving units
Encounter and dissemination
Cohesion through coordination
Networking / Social closeness
Range of associations
Cohesion through collaboration
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All this sounds difficult, but maybe it isn‘t. Maybe we are only much to used to our society of
masses where hierarchy and achievements count and where media based communication is
either television or something with IT and databases – with no possibility to interact.
There is one citation, that we should not forget: behaving in social media is very close to
acting in groups and therefore just with human beings. In groups of people we know and/or
Maybe the picture on the left hand side helps – especially when we are beneath
organisations. For example in markets or in society in general.
Social Media are nothing different than social plattforms that already exist. Like parties. If you
want to be heard there and if you want to introduce your ideas and make people realise that
they are good. Let‘s take, in the example, you want to introduce another style of music. Then
you probably don‘t appear with a big megaphone, telling everybody, loudly, that you are the
best. You wouldn‘t but you wouldn‘t succeed if you tried. It is the same with social media. It‘s
no use there, trying to convince loudly and from the scratch. Like at the party. You try to start
little conversations, you listen to the opinion of the others, you explain your point and step by
step you find equally minded people. Finally you in your and as a group can start and try to
convince the DJ to play better music. Talk, discuss, associate, build groups and make
conversation become visible action.
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But above all…
A good way to think
about social media
is that all of this is
actually just about
„… on big parties!“
Social behavior in "foreign" spaces
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